I decided to stop using paper towels well over 18 mos ago. The decision was pretty much environmental. However, paying for something that I throw away factored in as well. Two bads, expensive and earth clogging. Hmmm... Paper towels are pretty crappy.
So, I bought two packages of "rags" from Costco. I had some old cloth diapers lying around as well. I prefer the mini towel rags that Costco sells though. They are more pliable and have more scrubbing power. I think its the way they are made. Diapers are smooth and thick for obvious reasons. The rags are thinner, and grittier, I use the rags to clean up pretty much everything. Counter tops, bathrooms, walls, spills, cleaning muddy dog paws on a rainy day, wiping down kids before leaving the house, so they look kind of presentable. I also use them as napkins for the kids when they are eating. When the kids are done, just wet them a bit and you can clean up mouths and sticky fingers.
The only thing I do not use them on is windows. I use those microfiber clothes. You can get them at Bed Bath and Beyond, but you will pay more. They can be sourced cheaper from Target or Walmart in the automotive section. This way no streaks. Seriously, you can spritz water on your glass and use the microfibers and no streaks. I'll get on natural cleaners another day.
We did away with paper napkins as well. I just have a lot of cloth napkins in pretty colors for when we have people over. Then I will bust them out to seem more civilized. Cuz normally, the kids use their sleeves, and A and I don't seem to need them.Because we are perfectly neat. All of the time. If we do, there's always a rag. We're not proud.
Since I do a load of laundry a day it seems, I just chuck the rags in the wash to round out a load. So although there is the water factor, better washing a full load than 3/4. And I'll tell you what, those rags LIKE to jump on in and help out.
So really, if you have no new year resolution, think how you can reduce your footprint. In no time you'll be used to cloth, and you won't miss being out of paper towels. Try it, you might like it!-K